Tag Archives: relationships

It’s a Jeep Thing

The stuff over which my husband and I argue has reached an unprecedented level of absurdity in recent weeks. It used to be that such idiocy revolved primarily around domestic issues—like the cubic circumference of the vegetable chunks in our meatloaf, how one restores order (or doesn’t) to the Sunday newspaper and whether or not bed linens ought to be tucked beneath one’s mattress. Never mind becoming embroiled over small potatoes at home; evidently, we can’t even find accord within the confines of our cussed cars. More specifically, the contentious matter of windows up vs. windows down reared its ugly head for the first time in a long while—which is sort of surprising given that we own several vehicles equipped with windows and that we’ve been inclined to ride in the aforementioned vehicles together.

That said, I prefer having the stupid windows down when it’s roughly 8,000 degrees outside—the torrid wind whipping my hair and the sun baking my skin to a fine bronze hue, warming me to the pithy core of my soul. My counterpart, on the other hand, prefers to be encapsulated within a climate controlled sanctuary (read: a tundra-like holding-cell-on-wheels) for those who, apparently, are averse to fresh air and the freedom it embodies. Needless to say, this robs me of a brief, yet delicious, pleasure—because, of course, we can’t have it both ways. I can only imagine the sort of arguments we’d have if either of our Jeeps had roofs that could be removed altogether. Oy.

All things considered, it’s likely that I’m related to my dog who, given the opportunity (and opposable thumbs), would strap himself to the hood so that he might enjoy an even BREEZIER ride. It’s also entirely likely that I was the sort of kid who would foolishly shove her head outside a school bus window come June, delirious with joy over the prospect of summer. It’s also quite possible that I like roller coasters. And scooters. And those tomb-like boxes at the mall that produce hurricane force winds. But I digress.Of course, I can’t be sure from whence my affinity for traveling alfresco came, although I’d surmise that it has something to do with my childhood and the delectable summertime hours spent riding in the back of pickup trucks and boats, as well as atop my grandfather’s tractor across his 87-acre farm. And although I understand the reasoning behind the legislature that put an end to the era of transporting children in this manner (namely by means of pickup trucks), it saddens me to think of the generations upon generations who won’t get a chance to harvest fond memories like mine. Not to mention, it may breed colonies who, like my dear husband, worship and glorify air conditioning in cars. Ugh.

Much to my chagrin, it appears that my brood already identifies to some extent with the windows up mentality described above in horrific detail. That said, Thing One is fairly convinced that Frank, her beloved armadillo, will somehow sail out the window when we reach the expressway, while Thing Two has made it known to one and all that she completely loathes how the wind “wrecks” her hair and makes her cold. Good grief.

Making converts out of them now will be a supreme challenge and I may have to resort to a fiendish plan wherein I inform our children that their father once owned a Jeep CJ-7 Renegade AND LOVED IT, or better still—one involving the arrangement of a joy ride in a certain friend’s soft-top Jeep Wrangler. Not to worry, all interested parties will have ponytails if need be, sunscreen most definitely and the assurance that no disaster will befall their dear Frank, who will be buckled safely in the seat between them.

If the plan does, indeed, come to fruition, Mister I-Prefer-Air-Conditioning-and-Being-Comfortably-Numb will either have to overcome his disdain for touring in the open-air, or perhaps forego what promises to be an unspeakably enjoyable event—a Jeep Thing, as it were.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (tooling along on the road of life with my windows down and sunroof agape). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel


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Filed under Road Trip, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

The Omen

Well, Spring has long since sprung and love is officially in the air. I know this to be true because roughly every 43 seconds or so I receive yet another blurb about a love struck fool who just got engaged, who is about to get engaged or who has fallen so madly and deeply in love that he or she can’t see straight—let alone tolerate another minute without driving to Sears to pick out a shiny, new toaster with Mister or Miss Right. There is but one thing left do: To get engaged, of course—to admit that, “I have fallen and I can’t get up, nor can I possibly function another day on this planet without him (or her) by my side. He (or she) completes me.”

Gak. Spare me the syrupy details. It’s nauseating. Like an overdose of Aunt Jemima. Or Hungry Jack. I honestly wish the sappy nitwits in question would just ditch their silly blinders, at least momentarily, so that they might snap out of that besotted delirium to examine the truth. To step back from the drunken whirlwind of passion and crazed adoration to view reality if only for an instant. To wake up and smell the irrationality.

Lord knows I could have benefited from a smattering of logic the first time around—or from a little red flagish thing to alert me of the idiocy looming just around the bend. Unfortunately, however, the voice of reason had been stifled—battered and beaten into submission by some Aphrodite character. Looking back, I now realize my first husband and I were about as compatible as elbows and asphalt. Throw a rickety skateboard into the mix along with a couple of uncompromising personalities struggling to find balance in their lives and that was us. But without question, one of the most wonderful creatures on earth came about as a direct result of our union—my firstborn. No regrets there. I can’t imagine life without her—despite her oh-so-exasperating wild and woolly streak.

But to this day, I still marvel over the fact that I somehow missed an important signal while mired in the depths of that hopelessly smitten state. A big, yellow CAUTION sign planted squarely on the road of life. An omen meant to warn me of impending doom—not to portend everlasting marital bliss.

To make a long, boring story brief and exceedingly exciting, I was on the cusp of womanhood, preparing to make one of life’s most important decisions—to marry or not to marry the aforementioned fellow. His proposal was romantic enough, I suppose. Chilled champagne and a crackling fire were involved as I recall. But for whatever reason, I stalled—hesitating to respond for weeks, I think. This was perhaps omen #1, a subtle yet telling event that, of course, I dismissed. Omen #2, however, was one of those blatant, hit-me-over-the-head-with-a-fucking-shovel dealies that should have caused me to stop dead in my tracks had I had as much sense as a piece of driftwood. Suffice it to say, I didn’t, so I forged ahead with my plan anyway.

Admittedly, it was a magnificently orchestrated plan—and one that would answer his proposal in grand style. No simple, “Yes, I’ll marry you,” utterance would do. Nope. There had to be bells and whistles. Theatrics galore. I would hire a man to pilot a plane over Beaver Stadium during the legendary ’85 Penn State/Nebraska football game, all the while trailing enormous signage for the record crowd below to witness. “YES, I’LL MARRY YOU, JOHN!!” in bright red lettering would wave and flutter across the skies, proclaiming to thousands that I no longer was in doubt over the issue of marriage. The $150.00 it cost me to say so seemed reasonable given the significance of the event. But it was not to be.

By some strange twist of fate, the silly little plane never appeared. Not so much as a hint of its whirling propeller or the drone of its engine emerged from the cottony clouds that day—despite having glued my eyes and ears there for the duration. I later learned that the stupid thing had broken down sometime in the middle of the game and that the pilot was terribly sorry and fully intended to refund my money.

If ever there was a sign—that was surely it. It turns out that true love, in fact, WAS NOT in the air that day. Too bad I missed that memo.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Love and Other Drugs, Romance for Dummies

The Protocol of Love

No one writes love letters anymore it seems—the carefully folded squares upon which fools in love used to pour their hearts and souls, wooing the socks off each other with amorous prose and flawless penmanship. There was something to be said for the renderings of hearts pierced with arrows, too, and the TOGETHER FOREVER proclamations that were scribbled in the margins, punctuating the sentiment that flowed from their pens. Never mind the curlicues sprinkled like confetti across the pages of so many heartfelt messages. The handwritten letter, it seems, is all but extinct.

And while Hallmark does its level best to provide us with a host of perfect wordages for every occasion and our love affair with the instantaneous nature of texting, et al. has blossomed beyond all imagining, somehow these methods of communicating fall short. That said, they lack a certain warmth and palpable quality that only handcrafted ink-on-paper love letters possess.

But it’s unlikely that generations from now any curious-minded descendents of my children will happen upon a bundle of yellowed envelopes in a forgotten corner of anyone’s attic. And even if someone did, said discovery certainly wouldn’t be as remarkable as the cache of a dozen or so letters my husband and I unearthed in recent memory—the ones that were affectionately penned almost seven decades ago by a man deeply in love with his future wife—a man who had joined the Navy and was stationed far from home—a man who would one day become my husband’s father—a man that I, sadly, never knew, but whose letters have helped me bridge the gap.

My mother-in-law, of course, had carefully tucked the aforementioned keepsakes away, and it was some time after her passing that we stumbled upon them in a dresser drawer along with war rations and assorted snapshots from their early life together. Call me crazy, but I can’t imagine anyone digitally preserving treasured emails and text messages for much the same purpose. Alas, the world’s collective mindset has become far too intent upon immediacy and the disposable nature of things for that sort of nonsense.

Indeed, the entire landscape of courtship is a different place these days—no thanks to technology. Evidently it’s no longer in vogue to spend a Sunday afternoon having dinner and getting to know the parents of one’s love interest. The youth of today can’t be bothered with idle chitchat or something as dreadfully dull as sitting around in front of a fireplace, tackling a project together or (gasp!) playing cards at the kitchen table. Never mind taking the time to become familiar with his or her family traditions, cultural background or getting a grip on the dynamics within the family unit itself. Evidently, Facebook is the place where those things are shared nowadays—unless and until messiness ensues (i.e. breakups and whatnot). “What then?!” I ask. Does the proper protocol involve un-friending the would-be significant other/potential mate of one’s child? For all intents and purposes, that seems completely gauche to me. And awkward at best. Needless to say, life’s muck-in-the-middle doesn’t translate especially well via social media. A Facebook fail, as it were.

Furthermore, since the advent of cell phones, parents are virtually removed from the day to day connecting with those who feel compelled to telephone ad nauseam. Personally, I like intercepting those calls for my daughters because it gives me a fleeting chance to become better acquainted with the gentleman caller—whether he happens to fit the profile of an axe murderer, he is the epitome of son-in-law-material, or perhaps the most charming fourth grade boy the world will ever know. That said, I’m in no hurry to add Thing One and Thing Two to our ever-expanding cell phone plan. Our land line is just fine, thank you very much.

Likewise, I will rue the day any daughter of mine announces she’s getting married—unless, of course, the aforementioned epitome of son-in-law-material with whom said daughter would be enamored had had the presence of mind to seek our blessing and approval first. As it should be. However, I fear that sort of creature is a dying breed. Even still, I hope he’ll craft an abundance of handwritten love letters—ones that she will save till the ink fades, but not the memories they make together.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (lamenting the changing face of love).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel


Filed under Love and Other Drugs